Who Are the Thankful Ones?

Winston Churchill remarked that all of the other virtues are meaningless without courage.  I get his point, but would like to offer a modification:  All of the other virtues are meaningless without gratitude.

Churchill was living in a day during which darkness of a very malevolent kind was descending upon and across all of Europe.  The threat of Nazism cast a horrible shadow.  Men and women of good will would need to find the courage to do battle.

We live in a different era.  Yes, we are facing a foe that is thoroughly insidious in the form of radical Islam and, yes, the economic trauma of our day is fraught with devastation with the prospect of further devastation.  There is no question.

Who Are the Martyrs?

The word martyr actually means “witness.”  We are, in that sense, all martyrs, who follow Jesus Christ, certainly if we are sincere and deliberate in our discipleship and sense of witness.

Our persecuted brethren are witnesses for Christ in a very special way.  It is a horribly unpleasant (to put it mildly!) yet (by their own words) a joyful means by which to bear witness to the name and sovereignty of Jesus Christ.

They suffer for Him.  They count it a worthy honor to suffer for His Name.  Their sacrifice is graphic, their witness is profound and the fruit they bear is incalculable. 
They number over 200 million, of whom approximately 60% are children!

A Parallel Experience

We were conceived together, carried together, brought into the world together, nurtured and raised up together and will, somehow, remain indelibly linked for the remainder of our days – We are, you see, identical twins.

Brian was born, as was I, 49 years ago this month, the same day even, even if our respective entries into this world were separated by nine minutes, with his coming first – He grabbed my ankle and jumped out before I could respond, the bum!

So began our story, one that was, at least for the first eighteen years, a shared odyssey and, for the last thirty or so, a parallel existence.  One could do worse than live out one’s life with a twin entity such as my dear brother.

The Terrific Threes

    “What happened to you?” my lovely little grand-daughter is wont to ask me.  I reply, “Ah, my dear little one, it is a long and very sad story that left me just a shell of a man!”  She smiles and often asks repeats her question.           
She can’t possible understand the humor, not at a few days shy of three years of age, but she can recognize that my answer is humorous in nature because of the tone of my voice, but also because she is blessed with humorous instincts.

Amber’s humor is one of her loveliest charms.  She will turn three on Halloween and I pray that her humor, amongst other positive things, will only be enhanced as she lives out her fourth year of existence on this terribly-challenged planet.

“T” Is for Theodore

    “T” Is for Theodore  

“T” is for Theodore.  Someone once told me that his name was Ted or Teddie, but not Theodore because his mother couldn’t afford Theodore, only Teddie! 

The fellowship of First Baptist Church at Conshohocken can’t afford not to have another Ted, it being utterly irrelevant whether we can afford Theodore; we know we can’t afford our life and ministry without a brother named Ted Tarloski. 

I first met the brother in question at a funeral I conducted in late-2003.  He surprised me by showing up for church a few weeks later, right around the Christmas season.  And, wouldn’t you know, he stuck.

The Autumnal Amen

God’s Word provides a revelation that is singular because it is special, special in that the substance of its teaching can’t be found anywhere but within its pages.  No where else can one learn of God so intimately and intricately as in Holy Scripture.

It is only here, for instance that one can know of God’s exquisite love.  No philosopher or scientist would even dream, let alone posit, love as being integral to the very nature of God, yet Scripture does just this.

“God is love,” wrote the Apostle John (I John 4:8).  He didn’t say merely that God is inclined towards loving and being loveable; He stated categorically that God is love.  The human intellect might actually wince upon hearing such a proposition. 

That Which Awaits Us (Is Already Here!)

No one wants to die.  It is a categorical assertion that holds true with few exceptions. 

The terminally ill who are in excruciating pain or utterly exhausted don’t so much want to die as  to be free of this oppressive existence.  Few or none would reject a miracle cure with a one hundred percent rate of success. 

Islamic terrorists are more mindful of what they think awaits them than the actual act of dying, though they don’t appear to have any problem with the death of others.

The loss of a beloved spouse can put a dent into one’s desire to live.  Here are three categories of persons who buck an otherwise clear and compelling fact:  We all want to live. None wishes to die. 

Heavenly Hope amidst Cape Cod Charm

Memory is bittersweet.  Some days “bitter” is accentuated and other days “sweet” is highlighted.  And then there are those moments when the two are inextricably intertwined.  My forthcoming holiday will be one of those times.

We are off to Cape Cod for several days.  My step-daughter and lovely little grand-daughter (I am constitutionally incapable of mentioning her without the qualifying description!) are joining us for what will serve as a bittersweet week, at least for me. 

You see, I spent many a summer season on Cape Cod with my beloved parents.  They introduced me to its charms.  My father’s family had an aggregate of cottages on a corner plot of land in South Yarmouth, a mere hour-and-a-half from Boston.

An Allergic Avalanche

    It is that time of year.  It always surprises me, even though I know its coming.  I ready myself annually, yet I am still taken aback when it actually arrives.  It nibbles and entwines and pounces … and then …

The arrival of an allergic attack is like an avalanche in full vigor.  It is simply an explosion that sends you descending downward, and whether you are spiraling or tumbling or nose-diving simply does not matter; regardless, it is monstrous!

This year I have been treated to some entirely new and sinister sensations, sensations that have been specially prepared for my 48th year on this planet and my 25th year of allergic avalanches.  They call it a silver anniversary, don’t they? 

A Work of the Heart

A few of the men from my church joined me earlier this summer for a trip to Independence Hall.  One man had never been inside over the course of 62 years.  It was a delightful day of fellowship and history.

The men who convened at Independence Hall in 1776 and again in 1787 were brilliant intellects who conceived both independence and a democratic republic.  But the ideas that were conceived in their minds had long fermented in their hearts.

They loved the concept and practice of liberty.  You and I enjoy the fruits of their sacrificial labor, just as countless Europeans and Asians profit via the sacrificial labors of the World War II-era American GI. 

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